27 May

A couple of years ago, I visited a village known as Rukira found in Murama Sector, Ngoma District. As I strolled along the commercial street of the said village, I felt the heartbeat of the community.

Wandering up and down the busy street, I saw a familiar architectural design. The scene rekindled memories of my previous stopover in Gikomero Sector, Gasabo District. At Gikomero, I interacted with one senior citizen, who informed me that the design of the shops I was marveling at was influenced by Asian immigrants.

In the 1930s, a score of Arab traders entered Rwanda via the coast of East Africa. Most of them settled in Kigali, former Astrida (present-day Huye) and Rwamagana. "Their shops set a new trend across the region." He told me.

Back at Rukira, I saw shops owned by the authorized dealers of Tecno, Itel, Star Times and Rwanda Foam, to name but a few. As usual, MTN and Airtel agents, donning their sleeveless yellow and red tops respectively, were busy selling airtime and effecting transactions.

Before I left, I poked my nose into the business of tailors plying their craft in the heart of the village. I could barely hear the whirring sounds of their sewing machines, thanks to the deafening noise from the speaker belonging to a movie pirate operating from the verandah of the same building.

Farther ahead, the map drawn on the wall of Groupe Scolaire Rukira attracted my attention. Here, I spent about ten minutes studying continents, oceans and everything in between. It’s amazing how I traveled the world without moving an inch.